Gisborne is located at Macedon Ranges around 55km north west of Melbourne CBD. This beautiful country town began its existence as a squatting station and then flourished being on the way to some of Victoria’s Goldrush era towns. With all its limitations as a country town, this was also the birthplace of one Victoria’s well known industries of yester years. This is the story of Victoria’s most popular Butter Churn maker Cherry & Sons which made various models of Cherry Churns since 1858.
Edward Cherry migrated from Hertfordshire, England to Australia in 1855 and in 1858 established a joinery workshop at Gisborne. Gisborne at that time was popular resting place for diggers on their way to Bendigo and other Goldrush towns in the region. Initially E. Cherry began making butter churns in his spare time and as his product became popular, he put his energy and time in establishing a viable business. Cherry’s Churn factory was established in 1875. This was one of the oldest industries in country Victoria. As Cherry perfected his product, the company started making butter churns of all sizes up to industrial scale.
As Cherry’s butter churns became popular among country housewives, he has diversified into other diary related product manufacturing. The churns were made of Kauri Pine. The company was successful not only in selling his churns across Australia, but exported to countries like South Africa, Singapore, Hongkong, Manila, Shanghai, and Zimbabwe. When the infantile paralysis epidemic was at its worst, and hospitals were crying out for respirators. Cherry and Sons’ turned to and made a large number. On those days it was said that Cherry & Sons could make almost anything with wood.
Cherry used steam power for bending wood into required shape so as to form the two ends and bottom out of single piece. The timber was kept in stock for at least 12 months for it to achieve perfect dryness before use. Every part of the work with the exception of brass castings were done at the factory premises in Gisborne.
Edward Cherry died in 1909. His son George ran the firm until his death in 1917 and the company survived until the 1970s.
Cherry & Sons diversified into other products like Butter Trollies, Post Hole digger, cheese presses, Butter worker, curd mills, curd knives and even made school equipment for the Government. The company was the sole agent in Australasia for Agos Steam-turbine Bab cock Milk Tester.
On 7th Feb. 1912, Cherry’s churn factory was totally destroyed by fire, leaving around 35 people unemployed until the factory was rebuilt. Only the- office fronting the main street was saved, and that with great difficulty. The factory was insured only for £2,000 but total losses amounted for around £5,000. The factory was rebuilt.
Cherry & Sons kept the little town of Gisborne survive even after the Gold mania faded.